Vladerag's Blog











It is always sad when a child dies, even more so when it could be prevented.  All death is sad, true.  But death before you really have a chance to live is so much more so.  So when a beautiful thirteen year old girl commits suicide, we want to know why.

I wont draw more attention to the story that led me to post this, families deserve to grieve in peace.  However, one thing the girls father said struck me, “In today’s society, he said, it wasn’t possible for his daughter to escape bullying. She’d go home on weekends, and the bullying would continue on Facebook.”

The quotation is straight out of the paper that reported this.

It struck me because the bullying can be escaped, and people, escpecially parents, need to know how to do this.

This article is written for parents, but can be adapted to any situation.  This is a step by step guide to stop your child from being bullied, so we will start at step one.

1. The first step in stopping bullying is knowing that it happens.  Ask your child about their day and listen to what they say.  They will probably say “Good,” and refuse to elaborate.  Don’t bother to press them, you arent likely to get a truthful response.  If they want to tell you all about their day, Great!  If not, get creative.

If you suspect your child is having trouble, making a quick call to their teachers can tell you a lot.  A good way to be clued into cyber bullying is to get an account of whatever social site your kids has, and make certain they friend you.  If you are their facebook friend, you will be able to see their pictures and their wall, so you will have a better idea what is going on online.

Keep an eye out for the usual warning signs.  Depressed mood, sliping grades, etc.  The biggest key is to not be overbearing, but at the same time to be observant.

2. When you know your kid is being bullied, take action.  First thing you want to do is try to encourage your kid.  The easiest way to make bullies powerless is to imbue your kid with self-esteem.  Let them know they are doing well, compliment them on how they look, on what they are doing, etc.

If you found out that they are being bullied without them telling you, dont tell them.  They will likely not want interference from you on the issue and probably wont believe anything you say.  Make sure you dont shower them with nicities either, they will notice and disregard you as weird.

Since your kids might not take what you say at value anyway, convince a relative to help.  Cousins are a good choice, approach them and let them know that a kind word here and there can help a lot.

Remember, the best way to beat bullying is to ignore it.  If it can be beat with self-esteem, that is the way to go.  Your child will feel even better for it.

3.  Except that doesnt always work.  Some bullys are either too clever with how they hurt people, or simply to viscous, or perhaps your child is just to depressed to resist.  No matter the case, this problem has gone beyond self-esteem issues.

Some would suggest running to the schools at this point, but there is an easier way of handling this.  Talk to the parents of the bullyers.  A personal talk with the bullies parents can do more for you than a meeting with the teachers.  Parents have more power over their kids lives, and (almost) no parent wants a bully for a child.

Once they realize they can get in trouble at home for what they do at school, you will have less trouble.

As for cyberbullying, this is when you ask your child to unfriend and stop contacting the bullies.  I say ask because you want them to do it themselves.  If they dont, well, it is time for step 4.

4.  The thing is, however, that some people dont care if their kid bullies others.  Or, it could be that it is all online, and you cant have a chat with the parents.

If you are dealing with people you can meet in person, now is when you go to the school.  With the recent incidents of suicide and violence, schools generally have zero-tolerance polcies in regards to bullying.  Make it clear that you expect them to be enforced.  Generally, you wont have to make a point of it.  Teachers and staff are usually more than happy to comply, and suspension is a message that should get through to the offenders.

If you are faced with a school that is less than helpful, remember that the principle is not the final authority.  Go above their heads and remember that school districts want nothing to do with scandals or problems.  If that doesnt work, step 5 is for you.

In regards to cyberbullying, this is when you pull the plug.  There is no step 5 for cyberbullying, because it should never go that far.  This is when your kid unfriends the bullys or you cut them off.  If they are not willing to block the bullies themselves, use parental controls.

Parental controls dont always work against computer savvy people, which your child likely is.  So you may have to do something more drastic.  If you happen to be computer savvy yourself, go the extra mile and modify your computers HOSTS file.  That is something generally out of most kids computer expertise.  Be sure to remember to block both the www. address and the one with out the www. because they have different IP addresses.

If you dont know how, or are uncomfortable with something so drastic.  The easiest way is to pull out the cable from your internet router.  No internet means no internet bullying.  If your kids need to do homework, reconnect it for a time.  But keep watch to make sure they arent going to facebook and other sites.

And when I say keep watch, I mean randomly take the computer from them and check every window and their history to make sure they arent pulling a fast one on you.  Be wary of “projects” that seem to take forever, and remember you can always ask the teachers if it exists.

5.  OK.  This is it.  By this point you have tried to encourage your child, talk to the bullies parents, talk to the teachers, and even go above them and talk to the districts.  You have tried almost everything you can do.  But not everything.

This is the final, most drastic way to stop bullying, and it will do it.

You see, many forms of bullying are not just amoral, but illegal.  Threats against your child are assualt, and you can have them arrested for it.  If (physical people) are using facebook and other networks to slander your child, you can make a case that it will interfere with their abillity to get a job in the future and get into college.  Because it will.  Businesses and colleges will check these things, and if they see things they dont like, it can really hurt.

Talking to the police is the final straw, a last resort, and not something to be taken lightly.  Make sure you have exhausted all other options before you do this.

6. While number 5 is really the last option for stopping bullying, if nothing else works, there is one more option:  Leave.  Change classes, change schools, change cities, just get your kid out from that enviorment.  Obviously, you shouldnt have to give into bullying, but being an adult means making some touch choices, and that might meen uprooting everything.

I hope this helps people out there.  Remember, you never need to give into bullies.

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For every good game out there, there are two bad ones and for every fantastic game out there, you have three good ones.  You should never buy something merely good, and should never rent something bad, but the odds seem stacked against you, as by this logic there are six bad games for every fantastic one out there.  The trick is recognizing which one is which, and before you actually sit down to play them.

So how do you do that?

The first part is to know yourself.  Regardless that IGN rates it a ten, if you hate puzzle games, dont play Closure.  If you know what kind of game you are looking for, you are going to have a much easier time at finding it.  Each game is defined in a certain class, almost its own species, and each species has several sub-species, which have even smaller branches themselves.  The better you know what you want, the more likely you are to not feel the pain of sixty wasted dollars.

For example, if you know you like action, you should decide on whether you want something fantasy/swords based, sci-fi/shooters based, or perhaps fist-to-fist combat.  For the sake of the example, lets say you chose shooters, but before you pick a random one off the shelf, delve a little deeper into it.  Shooters can be devided pretty well along the line of stealth, namely whether or not stealth is a factor in gameplay.  Metal Gear Solid, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Ghost Recon, and Rainbow Six Vegas II all have significant stealth elements.  A stealth/shooter game usually means that your enemies can kill you pretty quickly, that enviorments will be complex perhaps with multiple paths to your goal, and that you will often need to think of strategies and then modify them on the fly.  This is great for the more tactical player, who prefers to take everyone out quickly and quietly, like they were never even there.

Alternatively, you might decide to go with something more loud.  Left4Dead, Battlefront, Call of Duty, and Medal of Honor rarely have stealth elments in them, and are generally not optomised for it, so dont expect to sneak through the levels and dont expect silenced weapons.  These games are often fairly linear, you are often affored more health than stealth types, and while some tactical thinking is useful it is more about quick reflexes and acurate shooting.

These two game types are pretty easy to identify, so you shouldnt have a problem deciding which one to play.  Without going into too much detail, here is a quick list and description of some of the more common types.

Shooter/stealth – It is all about killing quickly, quitely, and without being seen.  Tactical thinking is more important than brawn, and dont expect all that much health and ammo either.

Shooter/action – For the people who drown their enemies in lead.  You can think tactically, but generally all the tactics you need are an automatic and reflexes.

Fighting/wrestling(w) – Toe-to-toe mash ups.  This genre is more than just wrestling, also containing UFC as well.  Its all about punchs and kicks, not much thinking involved and you are limited to fighting in a small arena.  The (w) distinguishes this as the western style, the kind that doesnt have superpowers involved.

Fighting/wrestling(j) – Like UFC combined with the X-men, punches, kickes, and super energy plasma cannons.  Dont expect reallity and have some fun.

WRPG – Western-style Role Playing Game.  Skyrim, Kingdoms of Amalur, etc.  Extremely open enviorments, you can often choose to do whatever you want, whenever you want.  The Elder Scrolls Series in particular is noted for that, since you have no real need to follow the main quest if you dont want to.  Great for people who dont want to be held down to a particular storyline, or just like to spread chaos.

JRPG – Japanese-style Role Playing Game.  Tales of the Abyss, Final Fantasy, etc.  Much more linear than their cousins, the wrpg, jrpg’s generally have closed fighting systems.  Meaning that unlike Skyrim, where what you see is what you fight and where you are is where you do it, jrpg’s often use the monsters only as models for groups that may contain many monsters and take place in an almost arena like area.  They focus much more on the combat aspect of the game, and a lot less on choice.

Those are just a few, but doing some research on what type your favorite games are may give you insight into some more types that would interest you.

Ok, so you know what you like.  But how to choose from the torrent of games in each genre?  It isnt like you can play each game ahead of time and see which one is best after all.  Fortunately, you dont have too, because the people at sites like IGN have already done it for you.  There are other places besides IGN, but IGN is a very reliable source of information, and the reviews they write are top notch.

When looking at reviews on sites like IGN before you do anything else, skip to the end and take a look at how they scored it.  IGN rates games across several aspects, presentation, graphics, sound, gameplay, and lasting appeal.  They then give a score which represents how well the game was overall, and keep in mind that it is not the average of the other scores, but rather a sum of its parts type deal, representing the entire experience. 

If the game is less than a seven overall, dont bother with the review, it isnt good enough to merit the attention and only read the ones from seven to eight if the game looks interesting to you.  You want the best, so look for games in the eight to ten range, with ten being the most perfect game that the reviewers at IGN could have hoped for. (at the time of its release.)  A quick note is that IGN gives out tens very sparingly, with only a few games every taking that title.

If the overall score is good, check the other scores too.  The important ones are presentation and gameplay, as these are the ones that tell you how the game feels and how the game plays, good scores indicate a very playable game, you want to look for eight to tens in this range as well.  Scores less than eight indicate that the game may have stellar graphics, sound, or some innovative feature that warrant its overall score.  Nevertheless, in general you are probably not interested in just looking at pretty pictures with pretty music if the gameplay sucks.  The reviews are helpful besides the scoring as well.  They can alert you to difficulties in controls, graphics, or gameplay that might not be enough to hurt their rating but are still annoying nonetheless.

Reviews are great, and a fantastic way to check a game before you buy it.  At the same time, they are no the end all and be all.  Some of my favorite games have only merited low sevens, even though I throughly enjoyed them.  Which brings us to the concept of a demo.

Demo’s are possibly the best of all for learning whether or not a game is for you.  Since you actually get to play a sliver of the game, you get the best chance to see how it plays, what it looks like, and whether or not you want to buy it.  If a demo is available, you should always play it before you buy a new game.  Of course, that isnt always an option.

When considering buying a game, it is also a good idea to check who makes it and if it is in a series.  If the game has eleven titles, then that means it sells.  If it sells, it is probably a good game.  They wouldnt make it if they couldnt sell it.  By the same token, the “they” is pretty important, as it also will show a track record.  Bioware, Bethesda Softworks, and Blizzard have been making best-selling hits for years and they know what they are doing.  Anything they make will likely be quaility work, if not fantastic.

The second to last test is looking at the package itself.  By this time, you should be practically sold on the game already, since you would have researched it pretty thourghly, but it never hurts to take a look at the package.  Read some of the stuff on the back, check to see if it requires special things for the full experience (like a PS move or Xbox kinect), check to see if it requires an online pass, and double check the descriptions on the back.

Finally, you are at the counter, prepared to lay down some hard earned money to get some well earned rest and relaxation.  There is only one final thing that you should do, ask the clerk.  The people who work at Gamestop know the games fairly well, and can tell you if this game just sold was rated highly by reviewers but low by the actual buyers. 

If it all checks out, congratulations on your new game.  If not, well, consider that at least you havent wasted money on something that makes you want to rip your hair out.

Renting isnt a wholly different animal.  The same things still apply, except that you can lower your standards a bit and take a chance.  Services like Gamefly can allow you to try new things, without major consequences.

Still, why waste your time if you dont have too?

Again, it is important to know what types of games you like, and what you might be interested in.  If you like Battlefield III, you might like Rainbow Six Vegas II, or try Deus Ex: Human revolution for a taste of the sci-fi and rpg type genres.  Dont try and jump from one to other in one go, you might regret it.

Reviews are a good way to decide as well.  You have much more leeway when you arent buying, but you still want something better than a six.  IGN recommends that you only play games from seven to ten, and in their description of ratings, declares that some of the lower rated games are painful to play.  Something rated less than five can be compared to moonshine, it burns and will make you blind.

Unlike when you buy games, demos are of no use in renting.  For the time it takes to download, you could just rent the game play for an hour, and then send it back if you dont like it.  Dont even bother.  Similarily, there is no clerk to talk to, and no package to check. 

Honestly, if you feel you need a second opinion after the description offered and the review, it probably isnt worth the time.

You should pretty much avoid everything that doesnt pass these tests, because some of the games on the trashy side of the scale really are painful to play.

Happy Gaming.



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